Through their long history, human beings have formed communities, improved their lives, made efforts to achieve various goals such as security, and successfully achieved them.
There are various background factors for this success, including development and utilization of science and technology based on the superb wisdom and incessant effort of human beings. As a synthetic result of these factors, clearly, prosperity has been achieved, which we today enjoy. In this same process, human beings have also realized their long-pursued dream of living long lives on a global level. In particular, Japan is top worldwide in terms of both average lifespan and healthy lifespan, thus evoking an ever increasing awareness in the nation about the issues of aging and health.
We are now in the era where life expectancy is 90, and with it is an increasing number of super elite elderlies and centenarians who are ready to see the era where life expectancy is 100 years old in the upcoming future. On the other hand, aging is inevitably accompanied by decreases in various biological functions both physically and mentally, which, along with age-related illnesses, make it unavoidable for the elderly to fall into dependency. In addition, there are enormous issues to be dealt with, including those of care services.
Longer lives incidentally came with the phenomenon that is averse to supporting a long-living society, a phenomenon characterized by the collapse of family systems and decline in the number of children. Elderly people today are said to be exposed to three major anxiety factors: economy, health, and isolation. In addition to these difficult problems accompanying a long-living society, basic human issues such as the meaning of life, life goals, and reasons for living are drawing close attention recently. In order to solve these various problems and find an optimum form of long-living society or communities, or to know how to construct an ideal society with long lives where people can enjoy safe and comfortable lives with spirit, we need to take approaches from both sides: the society as a whole and the individuals that compose society.
We also need to establish various support systems including the following:
- Self-supporting capacity of individual elderlies to live free and independent lives
- Economic support systems including pensions and other social welfare programs
- Medical and care support systems that are kind to the elderly
- A socially appropriate environment where the elderly can have fun
- Local community activities to support the elderly
- Active administrative measures centered on the elderly
In order to establish and support these systems and measures, it is essential to develop and promote the science on aging and health -- a comprehensive science involving numerous related areas of science and technology.
Science on aging and health is a big science consisting of various fields and a completely new interdisciplinary science. The areas of science involved range from basic to applied, all of which are concerned with society in general. Accordingly, a well-balanced scientific development is expected for the science of aging and health from the perspectives of both the humanities and the natural sciences. All in all, the science of aging and health plays a significant role in providing foundations to create and establish a long-living spirited society that is also safe, secure, and comfortable.